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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, April 04, 2009


It's definitely not a good thing, but aren't we playing into North Korea's self importance by going all aflutter over this missile launch?

Aren't we giving them exactly what they want?

To those who stoked the baseless gun fears for their own ends....

A gunman wearing a bulletproof vest and "lying in wait" opened fire on officers responding to a domestic disturbance call Saturday, killing three of them and turning a quiet Pittsburgh street into a battlefield, police said.

Police Chief Nate Harper said the motive for the shooting isn't clear, but friends said the gunman recently had been upset about losing his job and feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns.

Later: (PPG) "He was also convinced that the government wanted to take away his guns and his freedom."

Picture of the Day

Bush was sharp with them, but Obama has his own non-verbal way of telling the press he's annoyed.

Gates' budget

An article in the WaPo on Gates' proposed budget, program reviews, and some of the anticipated cuts. (An 4% overall budget increase.) The story is that Gates and the military were asking for alot more than that, and are now being forced to find cuts to hit their priorities.

The biggest proposed increases have to do with overseas stationing and raising the inventory of current production equipment.

The cuts sound like they're coming from "future development" programs with the biggest in that "Future Combat Systems" boondoggle (that Rumsfeld championed) that no one has had the courage to touch because so much has been spent on it so far.

(It is notable that Gates didn't go to the NATO 60th anniversary. This story says he stayed home to navigate the politics of this budget.)

Another US drone attack in Pakistan

Another US drone attack in Pakistan, 13 dead. They're coming 3 or 4 a month now. I sure hope we're getting value, because we're only going to get so many of these before Pakistani pressure shuts them down.

Per the Pakistanis,
Officials say about one in six of the strikes over the past year caused civilian deaths without killing any militants, and that fuels anti-U.S. sentiment, complicating the military's struggle to subdue violence.

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Palin Springer show

Seriously? This is supposed to be the next first family?
Todd Palin’s half-sister was arrested Thursday after police say she broke into a Wasilla home for the second time this week to steal money....


Obama in a private meeting with bankers.
But President Barack Obama wasn’t in a mood to hear them out. He stopped the conversation and offered a blunt reminder of the public’s reaction to such explanations. “Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn’t buying that.”

“My administration,” the president added, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

And Iowa guarantees a far right 2012 caucus winner....

The Iowa Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling Friday finding that the state's same-sex marriage ban violates the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples, making Iowa the third state where gay marriage is legal.

(Look for Huckabee to quickly insert himself. He's been targeting Iowa and SC "social conservatives" for the last 6 months.)

Careful of parallels

The Alaskan Republican party is saying that, after Ted Stevens' conviction was abandoned, Sen. Mark Begich should resign.

If I remember right, Rep. Mark Foley was never officially charged, so do the Alaska Republicans think the homosexual page sexting Congressman should be reinstated, too?

(Maybe it's the "dearth of ideas" or adjustment to the minority that is leaving Republicans with these ridiculous arguments? )


Well, they all got their press, but, as predicted, every single one of those Republican Governors ended up taking that Stimulus money they said was going to destroy America.

Budget bits - Pelosi is good at her job

It has alot to do with the size of the majority, but still, "It was the first time in a dozen years that a budget had received more than 230 votes."

And, More House Republicans voted against their alternative (token) budget than Dems voted against Obama's real budget.

(Also in the Senate's version, a bipartisan amendment "that would raise the estate tax exemption by $1.5 million, to a total of $5 million, and reduce the tax’s maximum rate by 10 percentage points, to 35 percent." (I'd be curious how that comes out of committee.))

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Picture of the Day

(President Barack Obama (L), Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (C) and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pose for a family photo during the G20 summit at the ExCel centre, in east London. (AFP))

A ghost effort to oust Steele?

Not too likely this is a ghost effort to choreograph a no confidence vote on Michael Steele, but at the same time, he seems in no hurry to create a forum where that might happen.

What the hell, Boehner?

Boehner goes weirdo at his press briefing today about reporters' haircuts (bullying the way Bush used to.)

PS. He blamed the hard work of being in session for six straight weeks. (Country's on a precipice and he had to work for six weeks!)


"The fundamentals of our economy are strong."

----John McCain, Sept. 15, 2008

Political bits

(Politico) The Minn recount pressures Pawlenty, Republicans. (An interesting look at Pawlenty's dilemma. To win gov reelection in 2010 he needs the Minn Democrats, but, a 2012 presidential would require Republican primary voters, so he's hung either way unless Coleman steps aside.)

(YouTube) David Letterman slams the GOP. ("Object of ridicule" is a hard place to rebuild from.)

And, (CNN) Many Republicans have been cheering/highlighting European criticism of Obama (funny that they like the Euros now,) but that's also stuck those anti-Obamaites on the side of the Euros whose main objections are that Obama is not regulating enough or fast enough. (So, Republicans for regulation if it's against Obama?)

Later: Dodd reelection polling is awful, and Judd Gregg is still planning on retiring despite party entreaties.


The Chinese government makes a major commitment to try to jump into the lead on electric cars. It's not fully clear whether this will work because China lags in more than engines, but the commitment is big, near term, and will carry the reputation of the party's leadership, so they are going to put a whole lot into getting there.

Related: (Reuters) "General Motors Corp (GM.N) has asked for $2.6 billion of low interest government loans to support the development of three new hybrid vehicles..."

And, an interesting NYTimes piece on China's new world position.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Political bits

(TPM) The Dem lead in the NY-20 race is down to 26 votes.

(CNN) Carly Fiorina is talking about taking on Barbara Boxer for Senate. (Meg Whitman for Gov. Fiorina for Senate. The McCain campaign was good for them.)

And, (Bloomberg) Chances are that the now embattled Chris Dodd is probably sorry he spent his reelection warchest on that ill advised presidential run. (And it's not like he can go back to his banking donors for a refill right now.)

This is insane

In the GOP's "budget" released today, they included this graph which insanely "projects" the next 70 years. (And notice most of the difference starts at 2028, five presidential terms from now.)

Also, a technical question on the measure. The official calculation of GDP includes government spending, right?


Politico calls NY-20 a loss for the GOP,
For the GOP, the long road back to power has to start somewhere, and a seat like this one with a 70,000 Republican voter registration advantage was the logical place to begin.

After all, if the party can’t win with a head start like that, on the heels of the AIG bonuses furor and a massive expansion of federal spending, where can it win?


On the NY-20 special election going to absentee ballots, Henry A. Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic strategist in New York,
"This is a very good day for election lawyers."

Ted Stevens gets a walk

After all the prosecutorial misconduct, Atty General Eric Holder decides to withdraw the case against Ted Stevens and drop all charges.


Really, NYTimes? You're going with the Nazis as the best example of how to deal with an economic crisis?

You're going with "Hitler did some good things, too?" Really?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Senator Franken

After all that, the court decision comes down strongly against Norm Coleman, "putting at most 400 ballots in play." On April 7, only some of those ballots (not all) will be counted.

It's apparent that Coleman will keep appealing as long as the climate allows, so, please, Minnesota centrists and establishment figures, isn't it about time to start shaming Coleman into ending this thing?

Picture of the Day - 3

(Minnesota Democratic Senate candidate Al Franken watches a changing of the guard ceremony Wednesday, March 25, 2009, at Arlington National Cemetery. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf))


Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski from the ash covered state of Alaska takes a shot at Bobby Jindal.
"Recently there were some comments made about federal spending for volcano monitoring being wasteful,” Murkowski said during a speech on the Senate floor. “I can assure you that monitoring volcanoes is critically important to the nation and especially to my home state of Alaska.”


The Republicans poured a whole lot of money and national effort into that NY-20 race early. The Dems poured alot of presence and organization in late.


From a Vanity Fair anti-Limbaugh piece.
The dirty little secret of conservative talk radio is that the average age of listeners is 67 and rising, according to Sinton—the Fox News audience, likewise, is in its mid-60s...

Picture of the Day - 2

(Demonstrators march through central London March 28, 2009. (REUTERS/Toby Melville))


Polls are open in the NY-20 special election to replace newly appointed NY Senator Kristin Gillibrand.

Later: Interesting that Boehner's suddenly talking it down.

Not only on Wall Street are those who made the mistakes tasked with cleaning them up

It was lost on no one during a recent crunch of Afpak meetings in the Situation Room that as the No. 2 at the C.I.A. in the late 1980s, Mr. Gates helped funnel covert Reagan administration aid and weapons through Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, to the Islamic fundamentalists who ousted the Russians from Afghanistan.

Polling, America still loves him

The headline from the new WaPo/ABC poll is that that people don't blame Obama for the economic problems, and they broadly approve of his performance so far, but this jumped at me,
The percentage of Americans in the new poll who said the country is on the right track still stands at just 42 percent, but that is the highest percentage saying so in five years.

The right track number was under 42% for 5 years? I'd forgotten.

George Bush's complete disappearance has been the best decision he's ever made. (Roughly 70% blame the Bush administration on the economy, yet, within the populist outrage, his name doesn't get mentioned much anymore.)


...because, unlike banking, we all think we understand the car industry....

(If it was that easy, it'd already be done.)

In that other world,

(Sarah Palin) still remains the hottest commodity on the GOP fundraising circuit and a beloved figure within the base of the party.

Useless, but I read it all

I'm linking this Guardian piece on G20 minutiae not because it's important, but because, for some reason, I just kept reading.

Picture of the Day

(President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave from the steps of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base March 31, 2009, as they begin their trip to Europe. (REUTERS/Jason Reed))

Save us, Virginia.

Please, Virginia. Not Terry McAuliffe.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Is this a fight they want?

The RNC Convention Committee from 2008 is in a legal dispute with the company of a longtime fundraiser and fixer. Nothing really scandalous in the case, just a dispute about payment, but, notably, this is a guy whose done some borderline work for the party before, "provided a cheap-rental apartment for former Sen. Norm Coleman and bought the pricey clothes used by Sarah Palin during the '08 campaign."

I can't imagine someone that inside is going to crack and tell all, but it does feel like he pointed the HuffPo to a case that's been active since January and made sure they mentioned Palin and Coleman's problems.

Just interesting.


I know four separate people/couples/families who, in the last three months, have rerouted or canceled trips away from Mexico out of fear of the rising violence.

Second thought

With all the sudden focus on violence in Mexico, I think it's important to note that marijuana is the top revenue generator for the Mexican drug cartels.

Different scars

From a NYTimes article on the US and Germany.
Where long lines of unemployed people are the indelible image from the Great Depression in the United States, it is the wheelbarrows of worthless currency during the hyperinflation of the 1920s that preoccupies Germans.


Remember when "experience" was the watchword of the campaign?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Reid talked to Specter

It's not at all surprising that Sen Majority leader Harry Reid tried to convince Arlen Specter to flip parties to get the Dems to 60. It's also not surprising that Specter didn't do so considering the walloping he would have received from national Republicans leading into his re election year.

What is interesting is that Harry Reid decided to make that offer/those discussions public. This is sure to cause some difficulty when they're courting Specter for his vote, but it also completely kneecaps Specter in his very tough reelection primary fight. ("My opponent is so liberal that the Dems wanted him....")

Picture of the Day

Five months ago, the critics said, "Oh no... If Obama picks Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State there will be chaos! She'll be sucking up all the headlines and running rogue on policy..... and Bill! and Bill!"

(Just a little "I told you so" from your host.)

The first significant "Awakening" conflict in Iraq

It's long been the worry that the Iraqi Shia government would not embrace the Sunni militias created and bought off by the US leading to some return of sectarian violence. On a very small scale, this seems to be happening in Baghdad's Fadhil neighborhood where the Shia government (backed by US forces) has arrested the local "awakening" Sunni leader, and, after some armed Sunni resistance, are now ordering the local Sunnis to disarm.

The geography is important. The Shia seem to be okay with letting the Sunnis maintain themselves out in the Sunni dominated west, but this is in the heart of Baghdad, faultline for sectarian strife. Also, being in Baghdad, this has very high visibility which is hastening the erosion of countrywide Sunni trust.

This is a faultline, and it's cracking.

Also in Iraq, Mowaffak al-Rubaie talks about Iraq's plans to deport/dissolve the anti-Iranian MEK camp in the east of the country. (The US militarily protected the MEK camp until February.)

Two on torture

A Spanish court is beginning an inquiry against 6 Bush era officials who wrote created the legal basis for torture. (Gonzales, Yoo, Feith.)

And, a WaPo frontpager cites sources who say that the torture of Abu Zubaida, once called "Al Qaeda's chief of operations" by Bush, yielded nothing but false leads. Zubaida was the first one subjected to torture.